Victoria Falls: Activities
At Victoria Falls
, there's much more to do than walking the trails
. These activities let you experience the grand falls and its surroundings in different and exciting ways. Below is a list of some of these activities and sights that we're aware of though this is by no means an exhaustive list. We happened to do both the aerial tour by helicopter and the sunset cruise.
- Aerial Tours - In our minds, there's no better way to get a true sense of the immense scale of Victoria Falls than from the air. When the falls are in high flow (as it was for us), this may be the best way to see the falls as the ground views would be inundated with mist. There are a couple of popular ways to achieve aerial views of the falls - helicopter and microlight/ultralight. Based on our experience, the helicopter ride lasted for about 15 minutes and made several circuits above the falls providing the photographer plenty of opportunities to take decent photos (unless you're the unlucky person in the middle back seat). If you have a DSLR, I highly recommend shooting in servo mode so you can take multiple shots in a short period of time. Unlike helicopter tours in Hawaii or other parts of the world, they don't necessarily seat you based on weight as Julie and I actually got the rear seats during our visit. Microlights and/or Ultralights are basically hang-gliders propelled by engines (sometimes derisively referred to as lawnmower engines though I doubt whether that does it justice). Even though we didn't do the microlights, I'm sure the latter option is more thrilling and liberating. I've heard that sometimes the pilot can even take photos for you as a camera is fixed to the craft.
- Sunset Cruise - This excursion is not for experiencing the falls, but instead is meant for wildlife viewing as well as for getting plastered at the open bar on board. In fact, this tour seemed to be immensely popular with the backpacker crowd probably because of copious amount of alcohol you could consume. It certainly seemed that for the tour we were on, a larger percentage of customers were more interested in the booze than the wildlife. I guess it became apparent why this tour's other nickname was the "booze cruise." Still, it's possible to enjoy the wildlife and the sunset in relative piece if you consciously avoid the backpackers looking to impress the opposite sex with their drunkeness. As for wildlife sightings, we were able to spot zebras, impalas, giraffes, and even a crocodile. We didn't see any hippos nor elephants though they're supposed to be common in this section of the Zambezi River.
- Bungee Jumping - Even though we never entertained the thought of doing this, we literally witnessed people doing the big dive from the Livingstone Memorial Bridge. Even though we seemed to be some distance away in Zimbabwe's walkways, we could still hear the screams of bungy jumpers through the background noise of Victoria Falls thundering in the background. I have to believe this is perhaps one of the crazier ways of seeing Victoria Falls (maybe upside down) since we could see jumpers were getting sprayed by the falls as well as being suspended seemingly within arms reach of the turbulent Zambezi River. This isn't our type of excursion, but I'm sure there are adrenaline junkies out there who live for this stuff.
- Abseiling - this is another adrenaline-pumping activity where you abseil down the nearly vertical cliffs of the Batoka Gorge further downstream from Victoria Falls itself. In addition to thrilling you, it lets you experience an otherwise scenic part of the area that not many visitors bother to see.
- Aquatic Tours - I'm making up this category to encompass all boating-related activities below the falls such as rafting, kayaking/canoeing, jet-boating, and riverboarding. All of these activities gets your adrenaline pumping in different ways from motoring right into the whirlpools and rapids in a jet boat to trying to avoid them with whitewater splashing all around you in the non-motorized crafts. This is only doable in water that is high enough but not dangerously flooded (I'm guessing typically July to early August).
- Devil's Swimming Pool - How would you like to be in a natural pool right at the edge of the falls?!? Indeed those photos floating around the internet of people hanging right at the top of the falls aren't using Photoshop. They're in a natural swimming hole blocked in by a submerged wall right on the brink of the falls; and it's a good thing that wall is there to keep the current from carrying you over the falls (and surely to your death). Some people even manage to lay or sit right on top of that wall for some crazy top-down views of the falls as well as for pictures taken of them to impress their friends. You'll need to catch a ride onto Livingstone Island and be guided to that spot in order to pull this off. The catch to all of this? This excursion is only possible when the falls is at its moderate to lowest flow. Otherwise, you wouldn't in your right mind want to even touch the water and risk being swept over at any other time of the year!
Below are some more photos we've included from our two excursions to give you an idea of what you're paying for (at least as far as the helicopter and booze cruise are concerned.
Looking downstream towards the mist rising from the falls as we waited for our chopper ride
The chopper we were about to ride
Looking towards the falls and part of the zig zagging chasms further downstream
An unexpected surprise on the helicopter tour was spotting this elephant
Looking above the falls and further upstream at the islands segmenting it
Someone on a Microlight
A zebra seen during the cruise
Sunset glow over a baobab tree on a Sunset Cruise
Looking towards another booze cruise
Still colorful horizon even after the sun had set
A bungee jumper under the Livingstone Memorial Bridge
You know that bungy jumper must be getting sprayed with mist due to that full rainbow around that person
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